chapter  3
35 Pages

Patterns and Providence

I n 1735 the Pennsylvania Gazette extolled the virtues ofmath-ematics to a Philadelphia audience, the most urban and mercantile population center in the American colonies. "On the

Usefulness of the Mathematicks" ran the headline, to flag the attention of those who valued utility. The lead paragraph defined the word, in case anyone should be uncertain of its meaning:

Mathematicks, originally signifies any kind of Discipline or Learning, but now it is taken for that Science, which teaches or contemplates whatever is capable of being numbered or measured: That part of the Mathematicks which relates to Numbers only, is called Arithmetick; and that which is concerned about Measure in general, whether Length, Breadth, Motion, Force, &c. is called Geometry.